Giddy-Up Daddy.
Giddy-Up Daddy.

Giddy-Up Daddy: Bil Keane Horsy Ride Statue

Field review by the editors.

Scottsdale, Arizona

It's rare: an acceptable sculpture of a person as a beast of burden for other people. In this case the people are ecstatic cartoon characters astride their cheery creator, Bil Keane. A bronze statue depicts the syndicated cartoonist on his hands and knees, giving a horsy ride to his Family Circus comic strip kids: Billy, Dolly, Jeffy, and P.J. The kids were based on his own family.

Keane started as a newspaper staff artist in Philadelphia in 1946, moving to Scottsdale in 1958. "The Family Circus" comic strip was first published in Scottsdale, and by 1960 was syndicated in hundreds of newspapers. It became immensely popular, usually a single circular panel with a caption (and originally titled "The Family Circle" and at some point, the "Family-Go-Round"). The gags were almost always about the nutty things kids say and do, an often corny but familiar glimpse of parenthood and suburbia.

Bil made a miniature ceramic sculpture, "Giddy-Up Daddy," in the 1980s. It was the basis for the larger-than-life, nine-foot-seven-inch statue designed by Bil's sons, Jeff (who continues to create the strip) and Glen, and sculpted by artist Debbie Gessner. It was unveiled in 2013 on the second anniversary of Bil Keane's death (Nov. 8, 2011).

Drawing a daily cartoon -- the most widely circulated in the world -- was a career envied by many commercial artists. But it wasn't all cupcakes and horsy rides. The tough part is coming up with a fresh new joke... every day. For 50 years. We picture the squirming children on Bil's back as the relentless, ever-approaching deadlines for each day of the week. Yet he appears as if he couldn't be happier.

The sculpture is sheltered under a large gazebo at the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park, a popular place for children and their parents.

Giddy-Up Daddy: Bil Keane Horsy Ride Statue

7301 E. Indian Bend Rd, Scottsdale, AZ
North side of the city. The sculture stands beneath an open-air gazebo at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park. On the south side of E. Indian Bend Rd, just east of its intersection with N. Scottsdale Rd.
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Nearby Offbeat Places

Barry Goldwater MemorialBarry Goldwater Memorial, Paradise Valley, AZ - 3 mi.
Arizona FallsArizona Falls, Phoenix, AZ - 4 mi.
Alcor Cryonics TourAlcor Cryonics Tour, Scottsdale, AZ - 6 mi.
In the region:
Wall of Road Signs, Phoenix, AZ - 11 mi.

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September 18, 2020

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